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|The first Webster family migration to America
(1st generation in America)
John Webster, son of Matthew and Elizabeth (Ashton) Webster, was born 9 August 1590 in Cossington, Leicestershire, England. He grew up a farmer and worked several different properties inherited from his father. On 7 November 1609 he married Agnes Smith (born 29 August 1585) and she brought additional lands inherited from her father to the marriage. She was the only child of Robert and Agnes Julocke (Wraske) Smith and was 5 years older than her husband. John Webster (a Congregationalist) was an active member of All Saints Church in Cossington where he held the office of Churchwarden in 1618 and 1630.
John sold all of their holdings in Cossington (three houses one cottage, various small closes, about one hundred acres of arable land, and considerable grazing rights) for £1200 and, on 11 June 1634, sailed to America. The cost of passage for the entire family was £200 and the remaining £1000 made them one of the wealthiest of the migrating families.
The family entered the Massachusetts Bay Colony and settled in the area of Newtowne (now Cambridge), Massachusetts. They left for Suckiaug (now Hartford), Connecticut in 1636 in all probability with his friend Thomas Hooker and his adherents.
John's first public office was as a member of a committee that joined with the Court of Magistrates in determining the course of war with the Pequot Indians. He was a magistrate from 1639 to 1655, Deputy Governor of Connecticut in 1655, Governor of Connecticut in 1656, and first magistrate from 1657 to 1659.
Samuel Stone, leader of the the First Church in Hartford, caused a split among the church members when he declared that the requirement that stated only parents that had both taken communion should be allowed to have a child baptized would be removed, and non-communicants would be allowed to vote. John Webster was a member of a council that found this ruling unacceptable, but Reverend Stone chose to ignore this sentiment, and the issue was taken up with the General Court in Massachusetts. The court ruled that although Reverend Stone had been too strict in ignoring the majority of his parishioners, he was right in liberalizing the baptism ritual and that those who disagreed with the ruling could remove themselves to another location to worship in the way that they saw fit.
In 1659, in response to the court's ruling, John Webster helped build the new community of Hadley, Massachusetts. Two years later, on 5 April 1661, he died from a fever and was buried in Hadley. Agnes (Smith) Webster died in 1667.
Children of Governor John and Agnes (Smith) Webster;
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